Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Moose River “Bow Trip” - May 27 to 30, 2016

Holeb Stream
I had heard that the “Bow Trip” on the Moose River was one of the most popular canoe camping trips in Maine, and now I know why.  This trip has it all – a fun river, some lake crossings, great scenery, and easy camping.  Just to make it interesting, our trip also had thunderstorms, torrential downpours, swarms of blackflies and mosquitoes, and a difficult portage – something for everyone.

The Bow Trip is located in 19,000 acres of wilderness managed by the Maine Department of Conservation on the Moose River
and Holeb and Attean Ponds. There are 21 campsites along the 34-mile route.  When I heard that Joe would be leading a trip there on Memorial Day Weekend, I jumped at the opportunity to join.

Moose River
We had a small group of 5 paddlers – 3 solo canoes and 1 tandem.  We decided to use a shuttle service and skip 7-miles of lake travel up the Attean and Holeb Ponds, and more importantly, the 1.25-mile portage between the two lakes.

We drove up on Friday morning, and met our driver from Cry of the Loon at around 2:00 at Attean Landing on Attean Pond for the shuttle to Holeb Landing on Holeb Pond. We put in at the Holeb Landing and paddled across Holeb Pond to Holeb Stream.  We then followed Holeb Stream to its confluence with the Moose River, and paddled down the Moose River to Camel Rips where we set up camp for the night.

Running Camel Rips
As we settled in around the campfire, we started to hear thunder rumbling in the distance.  We got the rain tarp up just as the downpours began.  Thunder and lightening were cracking around us as we sat in relative comfort around the campfire.  Fortunately, the storms passed in a couple of hours.  Friday we paddled about 5-miles.

We awoke Saturday morning to a beautiful day with bright sunny skies.  We paddled down the Moose River to the quarter-mile portage at Holeb Falls.  After the portage, we had lunch at the Holeb Falls campsite before continuing down through Mosquito Rips to Spencer Rips where we set up camp on river left. There are also campsites on river right, but with drive-in access, we were told that they could be loud and busy.

Running Spenser Rips
With the calm skies and a sunny day came an abundance of blackflies and mosquitoes.  No amount of bug spray could keep the bugs at bay, and I had to resort to putting on my head net.  Finally, after reconstructing the fire pit, we got a smoky fire going, and that seemed to help.  Saturday we paddled about 9-miles with the quarter-mile portage.

On Sunday morning I was content to lie in my sleeping bag until I heard Joe outside my tent – “Hey Erik, you better get up.  Looks like rain so we need to get an early start”.  So much for a lazy morning. We packed up camp and headed downstream to run the rapids at Attean Falls. Attean Falls consists of two class I/II rapids – the first can be scouted from river left, the second from river right. We made it through fine, and then continued a short distance downstream to where the Moose River enters Attean Pond.

Crossing Attean Pond
Since the lake looked calm, we decided to cross Attean Pond and camp at one of the campsites on the northern shore.  After the crossing, we chose a site with a large beach out front.  We quickly set up camp, and had just finished setting up the rain tarp when the downpours began. We retreated to our tents until the rain finally stopped.  It may not have been a lazy morning, but it was definitely a lazy afternoon.  After emerging from our tents, we gathered some firewood, cooked dinner, and settled in for our last night around the fire. Sunday we paddled about 10-miles. 

On Monday morning we broke camp early.  It was a short half-mile paddle back to the Attean Landing. We stopped at Three Rivers in the Forks for breakfast before the long drive home.

My Pictures
My Video
Chuck's NFCT Trip Report on the Moose River and Attean Pond
Bow Trip Map from the Maine Bureau of Parks and Land
Cry of the Loon Outdoor Adventures 
Phone for Campfire Permits - Maine Forest Service at 800-750-9777

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